Your larger competitors seem to have it all worked out, with their consistent, on-brand messages. How can you keep up? Where do you start?
If you haven’t defined a voice for your business, start right there.
A personality for your business is the foundation of a brand. Your voice is the primary signifier of what you stand for, what your culture is like and what impact you create for your customers.
But hold up – those are all pretty abstract things. Why would your small business need all this? Don’t you just make X for people who need X?
Why develop a voice for your small business?
Well, sure, but most local businesses compete against larger enterprises in some way, and those companies have a brand out there in the world busy imprinting their name in the minds of your market. You can, and should, have the same. A voice amplifies your messages, shows people you’ve got it together, and helps them remember you. We talked a little about this in ‘Does your small business really need Branding’?
We also mentioned in our recent post on Marketing Trends for 2022 that personalisation is going to be increasingly important – and having a unique voice for your business is perhaps the best way to achieve a personal fit for your customers.
The good news is you don’t need to find an expensive branding agency. Anyone can work out their own voice. With it you can confidently engage with marketing and social media, or pass that voice onto any marketing help you engage along the way.
And when you’re ready, you can use this voice as the blueprint for a more detailed brand.
Today we’re going to help you work out three things regarding your voice.
Elements of your businesses voice:
- When you speak, how do you sound?
- When you speak, how do you make people feel?
- How do you change your customer’s lives?
The Brand Attributes Exercise
This exercise isn’t that complicated, but works better with the whole team in the room. Of course we’re happy to drop in and run through it with you, but we think you can handle this one. This exercise adapted from our brand strategy offering (bundled with web design) and we’re spilling the beans today.
How to create a voice for a small businesses:
- Get a few of the team around a table and caffeinate them sufficiently.
- On a white board draw up three columns headed Voice, Feeling and Impact.
- In the Voice column, ask your team to list as many words describing your culture as you can. If your business was a person, how. would they sound when speaking? They should be best-case-scenario words (how you want to be).
- In the Feeling column, you’re looking for words that describe how your customers will feel when dealing with you. Of course these are likely to be the opposite of the feelings created by the problem you solve, but they might not be. There are no wrong answers, just see how many you can get down.
- In the Impact column, you’re looking for words describing how you’ll change your customers life – this could be in small or big ways. See if you can get 20 – 30 in each column. There are no wrong answers, so don’t correct or discourage anyone. You’ll find that some suggestions build on others, some are more general and some are more specific. That’s fine at this stage!
- Now that the columns are full, you’re looking to narrow the list in each column down to the top five. You’re looking for general consensus, but vote if you need to The first three will be easier, then there will be some discussion as to which are the next most.
- Repeat that process for the top 3 words,
- And then again, to find the single, most important word.
You’ll notice some excitement building in the room as you get into this exercise. It’s as if your businesses suddenly has a soul. This exercise is always a honour to be a part of, and we think you’ll know why if you try.
Now you have the words you’ll use to create your impact narrative: the guide for your voice. Here’s what ours looks like:
These three triangles represent steps you take your customers on, which can be represented in your voice. You can use this in all your communications and design, calling on either the primary or secondary word to change things up when needed.
You can see from the above that for KeyTech, we want to sound helpful, make our customers feel valued, and ultimately, give them peace of mind, but we can also say that sometimes we sound human, make sure our customers are heard, and that we make their life simpler.
It’s important to include impact in your voice because good marketing always includes a prompt to think positively and act proactively on the problem. When we interact with our customers we want them to be conscious of the better tomorrow we’ll help them get to.
Now you have your voice!
The best part is you all had a part in creating it, so it’s 100% authentic and will feel real when people hear it across your social channels, advertising and emails.
If you go through this process, let us know how it went, and what voice you came up with!